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    Agents of sustainability: How horses and people co-create, enact and embed the good life in rural places

    Wadham, H ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9980-4409, Wallace, C and Furtado, T (2022) Agents of sustainability: How horses and people co-create, enact and embed the good life in rural places. Sociologia Ruralis. ISSN 0038-0199

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    Abstract

    Notions of the good life are often strongly linked to rurality. Existing conceptualisations tend towards an anthropocentric and individualised approach centred on personal wealth, status and happiness. In contrast, this article reframes the good life as an interspecies endeavur, which embeds people and animals alike by recognising their interdependent relational configurations within the wider natural-social environment. Specifically, we bring insights from the concept of buen vivir to bear on research among people who live alongside their horses in rural areas of the UK. We find that horses enhance, enable and mediate people's understanding and experience of the rural good life. In contrast to popular and scholarly conceptions that emphasise privilege and leisure, the interspecies iteration that emerges is characterised by hard work, collaboration and purposeful active learning. This has profound implications in turn for our understanding and experience of sustainability, as these interspecies relations lead participants into a more active stewardship of both the immediate and wider environment.

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